When the University of Hawaii football team lines up August 29 in Aloha Stadium against the USC Trojans, they will be a different team than they’ve been for the past 13 years. How so? The school is bringing back their old moniker: Rainbow Warriors.
All men’s athletic teams at the Manoa campus will now be called the Rainbow Warriors instead of just Warriors and other monikers chosen, Athletic Director Ben Jay decided after a firestorm of debate erupted earlier this year (source: Kaleo). By the way, the women’s teams will all remain the Rainbow Wahine, which has been the case for over 40 years.
Singular name needed
This decision comes after Jay had stated last February the nickname for all the men’s teams would officially be called Warriors. That big announcement and change was made because Jay felt, “The words – warriors, wahine, and rainbow – represent who we are as a university and athletics department. By utilizing these two nicknames, we keep with our tradition and are able to have a consistent branding and marketing message.” (Source: KHNL)
Still, the marketing assessment aside, fans and students protested the decision as there was strong sentiment about this mixture of names. Groups contested the name change and protests like the one on May 3 called ‘Rally 4 Rainbows’ were held. Jay then made a u-turn of sorts and went the other way, permanently bringing back the Rainbow Warriors name.
The reason for the current perplexity of this issue dates back to when June Jones was hired as the new head football coach in 1999. The team was mired in an awful losing streak (source: Yahoo! Sports) and a shakeup was needed. Jones rid the squad of the Rainbow moniker, setting up a simple Warriors name. The rebranding seem to do the trick as sales of Warriors branded items started flying off the shelf and the team themselves brought back respectability to the school as a legitimate football team for years to come.
However, confusion reigned supreme as to what the actual moniker for the school was. And that’s where Jay entered. Ben Jay is a new Athletic Director for Hawaii but comes from Ohio State where he worked and originally graduated from. The native Ohioan wanted consistency in the universities nickname as men’s athletic programs individually decided what name to be called, causing a mix of Warriors, Rainbow Warriors, Rainbows, et al.
It should be noted that when the school first started putting teams on the field a century ago, they were called the ‘Fighting Deans’. The story goes that final game of the season back in the 1923, a rainbow appeared over the football field after Hawaii ‘Deans’—yes, Deans—surprisingly upset the Oregon State Beavers, 7-0. Then a tradition began: Whenever a rainbow appeared over the school, Hawaii could not lose, so reporters ran with it, calling the Deans the ‘Rainbows’.
As a longtime fan, I have long used the name ‘Bows to refer to the football team. The scraping of such a long and beloved name would have been a poor decision and this fan is glad for the change. And now I won’t get emails and comments on stories when I call them the ‘Bows.
It doesn’t matter to Chow
Norm Chow, the current head coach for the football team was not bothered by the name changes (source: ESPN). He has more pressing issues and said, “We need to put a good product on the field — that’s what it’s all about.”
The Rainbow Warriors are back. Now, if Chow could get the same results that Jones had …
Additional source: University of Hawaii